Virginia Tech will meet Iowa tonight at 9:30pm in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge
from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Both teams come into this game struggling
offensively, and if you are looking for an exciting game with lots of scoring,
this probably isn’t the game for you.
Iowa is just 2-4 on the season. They have losses to Texas-San Antonio
(62-50), Duquesne (62-50), #3 Texas (85-60) and Wichita State (74-57). Their two
wins came over Bowling Green (68-46) and North Carolina Central (73-63). As you
can see, the Hawkeyes aren’t putting up a lot of points.
Iowa has faced a pretty good schedule so far. Beside Texas, who is undefeated
and ranked #3, Texas-San Antonio (4-1), Duquesne (4-1) and Wichita State (4-1)
all have winning records.
Tech’s schedule hasn’t quite been that tough. The Hokies are 4-1, but like
Iowa they are having a lot of trouble putting the ball in the basket. Here’s a
quick statistical comparison of both teams.
No matter how you slice it, this will be a matchup of two very poor shooting
teams. Iowa is a little more capable of hitting the open jumper, but they only
play with a seven man rotation, and they operate at a very slow pace
The Hawkeyes are a very young basketball team.
When you start two freshmen and two sophomores, and you don’t have a deep bench,
chances are you are in for a very long season. The Hawkeyes will likely finish
at or near the bottom of the Big Ten standings this year, but with the way the
Hokies have been playing offensively this year, no game will be a cakewalk for
Cully Payne is Iowa’s freshman point guard. Payne is a true point guard and a
smart basketball player, but he’s still young. He leads the team with 24 assists
through six games, but he has also struggled with 20 turnovers. Payne can hit
the open jumper, but he’s wasn’t brought to Iowa to be a major scoring threat.
He is a game manager and a true point guard, not a scoring guard.
Joining him in the backcourt are sophomores Anthony Tucker and Matt Gatens.
Gatens made the Big Ten All-Freshman team last year, and was the only Iowa
player to start all 32 games. He leads the team in scoring so far this year. In
fact, Gatens has to shoulder the load offensively. His 65 shot attempts is the
highest mark on the team, but he’s only shooting 33.8% from the field and 26.7%
from three-point range.
Gatens is better when letting the game come to him, but the Iowa offense is
so limited this year that he is not allowed to play within himself. However,
he’s a tough and scrappy player, and he’s proud to wear his Iowa uniform. His
father played basketball at Iowa, his mother was a cheerleader for Iowa, and
both of his sisters competed in athletics at the school. He committed to the
Hawkeyes when he was in the ninth grade.
Anthony Tucker has started every game this year, and he’s averaging 8.8
points per game. Like the rest of his backcourt mates, Tucker is shooting
poorly. He’s just 30.5% from the field and 22.7% from behind the arc. He is
capable of putting up big numbers, as he dropped 24 points and was 6-of-9 from
three-point range against West Virginia last season.
Iowa’s best chance of victory is getting the ball inside to Brennan Cougill
and Jarryd Cole. Cole doesn’t have the idea height for a center, but he’s a wide
body who is tough to move in the lane. He is the most experienced Iowa player,
with 45 career games and 15 starts heading into this season. Cole finishes well
down low. He was a 66.2% shooter for his career heading into this season, and he
is at 65.7% this year.
Cole takes good shots, but the Hawkeyes need to get him the ball more, and he
needs to be more assertive. He is perhaps Iowa’s top offensive threat thanks to
his ability to finish inside, but he has taken just 35 shots in six games. He
needs to have at least 10 shot attempts per game, rather than five or six.
Brennan Cougill is Iowa’s biggest player, and he is also a solid offensive
option. He is converting at a 54.3% clip this year, and he’s also capable of
stepping out and knocking down the open three-pointer. Only a freshman, he has a
good future in Iowa City, but he’s still a very raw player.
Gatens, Tucker and Payne all play 30 or more minutes per game, while Cole
plays 28.3 and Cougill is on the court for 22.7. Only two other Hawkeyes have
seen action in every game this season.
Eric May (6-5, 220, Fr.) is a freshman wing who averages 25.2 minutes per
game, and is third on the team in scoring with an average of nine points per
game. He is a solid sixth man for the Hawkeyes. May leads the team in steals and
blocks, and he’s a solid rebounder as well.
Devan Bawinkel (6-5, 215, Sr.) is originally a JUCO who signed with West
Virginia, where he played for the 2006-07 season. He transferred to Iowa, where
he came off the bench for the Hawkeyes last year. He’s a streaky shooter, and so
far this year he is shooting just 31.6% from the field and averaging three
points per game.
Bawinkel is capable of getting hot, however. He scored 24 points against Ohio
State last year, all on three-pointers. He was 8-of-13 from behind the arc in
Only two other players have made it on the court for the Hawkeyes this year.
Aaron Fuller (6-6, 230, So.) has played in four games, starting two, but has
averaged just 6.8 minutes per game. He has been bothered by an ankle injury, but
he might be able to play tonight against the Hokies. Andrew Brommer (6-9, 235,
So.) has played in two games, averaging three minutes.
Tech has three advantages in this game. First and foremost, they have more
star power than the Hawkeyes. Malcolm Delaney is easily the best player on
either team. He can carry the Hokies in long spurts, while Iowa has no one who
can do that. Second, Tech is the most experienced team. The Hokies have a lot of
juniors, while Iowa has freshmen and sophomores. Finally, the Hokies are a more
athletic team than Iowa, though the Hawkeyes will try to slow things down and
play their game.
If either team is able to hit their open jumpers tonight, that could end up
being the difference. Iowa doesn’t have the offense to blow Virginia Tech out,
so the Hokies have to be patient. Turnovers could be big. Tech is averaging just
10.3 turnovers per game, the top mark in the ACC. Iowa hasn’t been very good
with turnovers this year, so if the Hokies can win the turnover battle and get
more possessions, they have a very good chance to win.